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Wednesday, February 20 News

Tax hike possible as grand list drops

NEW CANAAN — After a December revaluation showed a drop of over half a billion dollars of taxable property value in town, officials are outlining the effect it could have on residents’ taxes.

“That is going to be a challenge for everyone,” Board of Finance member George Blauvelt said during a presentation at a Jan. 16 Town Council meeting.

He said there is an expected $596,618,912 — about 7 percent — decline in the taxable property base.

Blauvelt said this could also pose a challenge with contractual obligation increasing and a modest increase in the pension contribution.

Assuming a 1 percent increase in the town’s budget, residents could see a 1.41 percent increase in taxes, according to Blauvelt. This would be a total of $1,989,122 more than the previous year. The new mill rate would also rise to 18.59, from 16.96.

First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said the Board of Selectmen plans to present a town budget with less than 1 percent increase.

“98.9 percent of the rise in the mill rate is the cost of the 7.15 percent decline in the taxable grand list of the town,” Blauvelt said.

While the numbers may seem alarming, Blauvelt said, it is important to note this is an early model and things are subject to change.

“Over the next two months, we’ll populate this model with real data and we’ll have a better understanding of what’s going on,” he said.

To show how this affected property taxes, he looked at six price points — ranging from $3 million to $1 million. Properties that were assessed at $1.5 million before the revaluation would have paid $17,808 in real estate taxes to the town. Under the new revaluation, this property would pay about $18,087, a $279 increase.

“For a $500,000 property you see a really aggressive increase in the tax payment,” Blauvelt said. “It goes from $5,936 to $6,548. That’s a 9.4 percent increase from what they’re used to.”

Blauvelt noted all of the properties in town are not distributed equally across the price points he chose.

“I think this analysis is directionally accurate. It’s not perfect, but I think it goes in the right direction,” he said. “One of the weaknesses with the analysis is there are a lot of appeals that’s going to happen.”

Council Chairman John Engel said residents’ appeals to the recent revaluation will occur in February.

“Five years ago, we had 285 challenges,” Engel said. “If five years ago is any indication ... two out of three will experience some change, even if it is a small change.”

dj.simmons@

hearstmediact.com, 203-842-2568

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